Judge: no separation of sexting, hot car death charges for Harri - CBS46 News

Judge: no separation of sexting, hot car death charges for Harris

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COBB COUNTY, GA (CBS46) -

Justin Ross Harris will face one trial on charges he sent sexual text messages to a minor and intentionally left his son in a car to die, starting on Feb. 22.

Hearings continued Monday in the Justin Ross Harris case in Cobb County. Harris is accused of intentionally leaving his 22-month-old child in a hot car to die. Judge Mary Staley set the date for the trial to begin on February 22, 2015.

Lawyers for Harris want the judge to throw out charges they say are unrelated to the case, specifically that he sent messages of a sexual nature to a minor. 

Harris told investigators he forgot Cooper was in his car when he went to work. Cooper was found more than seven hours later dead in the car.

An autopsy showed that the boy had died from the extreme heat. Cooper's body was in a state of rigor mortis when he was removed from the car, according to detectives.

Prosecutors alleged Harris was unhappy at work and in his marriage, portraying him as an unfaithful husband who wanted a child-free life.

CBS46 talked with a defense attorney who said the ruling could set up an appeal, if Harris is found guilty.

"Because the evidence is so damaging, lawyers call it more prejudicial than probative," said defense attorney Page Pate. "That connection to motive, I think, is pretty weak. I think they've got that maybe by a thread so allowing this evidence in, if they get the murder conviction, there may be a good argument for an appeal."

According to Detective Phil Stoddard, Harris had been sexting girls, one as young as 17 years old, throughout the day while he was at work. Harris messaged six women, sending and receiving explicit texts, some including nude images.

Police also said that Harris had visited several sites that showed people dying in all sorts of ways, including suicides and executions.

A Grand Jury has indicted Harris on the following charges:

  • Malice Murder
  • Felony Murder
  • Felony Murder
  • Cruelty to Children in the First Degree
  • Cruelty to Children in the Second Degree
  • Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony, to wit: Sexual Exploitation of Children
  • Dissemination of harmful Material to Minors
  • Dissemination of Harmful Material to Minors

Stay with CBS46 as we will continue to follow this case and provide updates as new information becomes available.

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